MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City

Venue: Talen Energy Stadium – Friday, April 8 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Philadelphia 5/4 – Draw 9/4 – Orlando 23/10

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union welcome Orlando City to Talen Energy Stadium in this week’s Friday night MLS clash as two early Eastern Conference pace-setters go head-to-head in an intriguing clash.

The Union have surprised many people so far, with victories over Columbus Crew and New England Revolution helping them to sit third in the East heading into the weekend.

Jim Curtin will be pleased with the displays of his side, although last week’s 1-0 loss to Chicago will have left him bitterly disappointed. An immediate response will be expected here.

Embed from Getty Images

Philadelphia have only played one home game so far and will see Friday night’s encounter as the perfect opportunity to send out another statement of intent. A win over Orlando will send them top of the Eastern Conference and that will be the objective from the outset.

That will be no easy task, however. Orlando are playing some excellent football and their 4-1 demolition of reigning MLS Cup champions Portland on Sunday night send shockwaves across the league.

That victory coincided with the return of star man Kaka. Having him back in action only strengthens what is already an impressive squad at Adrian Heath’s disposal.

Embed from Getty Images

The Lions are one of only two sides yet to lose an MLS game in 2016 and will expect to extend their unbeaten run to five on Friday night. A win at Philadelphia will ensure they remain top of the Eastern Conference for the weekend.

This will be the third meeting between the two sides in MLS. They met twice last year in Orlando’s inaugural season, with the only clash in Philadelphia ending 1-0 to the Union. The game in Orlando finished 0-0 so Orlando have yet to score a goal against Philadelphia.

Team News

Philadelphia will be without Warren Creavalle as he will serve a one-game suspension following his red card against Chicago last weekend. The Union will also still be without long-term absentee Maurice Edu, though they are the only two concerns for head coach Jim Curtin.

Orlando City will travel to Philadelphia without Brek Shea, as he will serve a one-game suspension following a Disciplinary Committee decision made by the league. Conor Donovan and David Mateos remain sidelined, while Tommy Redding and Cyle Larin are both doubts. Larin has a hamstring problem but is expected to be fit by Friday night.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s form: L/W/W/L

Orlando City’s form: D/D/W/W

Key Stat: Orlando have only lost one of their last ten MLS games in total and are one of only two unbeaten sides in the league in 2016.

Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian star returned to action for Orlando on Sunday night and was instrumental in the impressive win over Portland. Expect him to show his class once again as Orlando look to remain unbeaten at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-2 Orlando City – This should be an intriguing clash between two sides looking to take the Eastern Conference by storm this season. Both will expect to find the net but Orlando look very strong, with Kaka’s return making them appear unstoppable at this early stage. An away victory is expected, though the Union won’t go down without a fight.

Advertisements

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: Orlando Citrus Bowl – Sunday, April 3 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Orlando 11/8 – Draw 23/10 – Portland 2/1

Match Preview

Orlando City welcome MLS Cup Winners Portland Timbers to the Orlando Citrus Bowl this weekend in a tie which should be packed with action.

Orlando have had a great start to their second season in MLS and remain unbeaten in three. Their performances see them sitting third in the Eastern Conference heading into the weekend.

Adrian Heath’s side come into this one off the back of their first win of the campaign, a 2-0 victory over New York City. They had drawn their first two of the season but will now look to make it two wins in a row against the reigning champions.

These sides met once in Orlando’s inaugural season, with Heath’s side coming out as 2-0 winners away at Providence Park and they will be hoping they can repeat that result as they welcome Portland to the Citrus Bowl for the first time.

Embed from Getty Images

Portland Timbers have proven to be a bit of a mixed bag so far this season. They started 2016 with a win but have since lost and drawn in their last two fixtures.

Caleb Porter’s side come into this one off the back of their 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake, a game they looked likely to lose at 2-0 down but a late brace from Fanendo Adi was enough to take a share of the points against an RSL side who ended the game with nine men.

The good news for the Timbers is their sole loss this season is the only time they have tasted defeat in their last 12 matches so they will be expecting to get on a strong run of form and push their way up the Western Conference, starting in Florida on Sunday.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Orlando could be without up to four for this tie. Conor Donovan, David Mateos and Bryan Rochez are expected to miss out. There had been doubts about Kaka but the Brazilian insists he is fit to play and should make his first start of the campaign here.

Portland have just the two injury concerns as Liam Ridgewell and Andy Thoma are both expected to miss out here.

Key Points

Orlando City’s form: D/D/W

Portland’s form: W/L/D

Key Stat: Fortress – Orlando are unbeaten in their last eight home outings.

Key Player: Cyle Larin – The Orlando striker has netted in every game so far this season and has scored in the opening ten minutes in his last two appearances.
Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Orlando City 1-1 Portland Timbers – Both these sides will cause one another trouble throughout this tie. Orlando are already proving difficult to beat this season, while Portland are struggling for consistency. A draw wouldn’t be a bad result for either side.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Who should you be buying for Week 2?

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

The first week of the MLS season was full of goals, thrills and spills. From Orlando City’s more than miraculous stoppage time comeback against RSL, to Michael Harrington and Joao Meira’s beautifully accidental assist for NYCFC striker Tony Taylor’s goal, the opening round of games had it all.

However, the first week of the MLS season also meant the start of the 2016 MLS Fantasy campaign and managers will be left with plenty to reflect on after the first weekend’s action.

Week 1 Review:

The Good

The standout performance of the weekend has to be Ignacio Piatti’s ($10.2) two-goal and one-assist haul against Vancouver, which won Montreal the game and saw him rack up 20 points. The surprises of the first weekend were Daniel Steres ($5.2), scoring on his debut for the Galaxy in their 4-1 win over DC United and Khiry Shelton ($6.1), who not only started, but scored and picked up an assist along the way in NYCFC’s incredible 4-3 win over Chicago Fire. The only defender to score and to keep a clean sheet this week was Nuno Coelho ($7.7) of SKC, who earned 16 points in his first ever MLS appearance.

Embed from Getty Images

The Bad

Demar Phillips ($6.8) of Real Salt Lake was probably the worst MLS Fantasy player of the weekend after making the biggest mistake on opening day. He was sent off just 19 minutes into his side’s game against Orlando City for picking up two yellow cards, the second of which was issued for his flying scissor kick, which connected with with OCSC front man Cyle Larin ($9.1). The defender received a score of -3 points for the opening weekend, and he will now miss a crucial game against Seattle. However, this was not the only red card at the Citrus Bowl, as Darwin Ceren ($6.6) picked up a straight red card on the stroke of halftime with his side already a goal down. Seattle Sounders’ Oneil Fisher ($5.3) was the other player to receive a red card during the opening weekend of the MLS season and won’t want to remember his negative points tally of -2.

It wasn’t a good day either for Chicago’s debutant Joao Meira ($7.4). The defender endured a woeful performance in his side’s 4-3 home defeat to New York City FC, in which he not only conceded four and pick up a yellow card, but was directly at fault for NYCFC’s second goal. He kicked teammate Michael Harrington in the head, and by doing so, prevented Harrington clearing a cross which Tony Taylor proceeded to convert. Not an MLS debut to remember for Meira!

Embed from Getty Images

Week 2 Preview:

The Must Buys

New York City’s Khiry Shelton ($6.1) could be a cheap option in your fantasy team this week and beyond, as he should retain his starting place after his stellar performance against the Fire. With four consecutive home games upcoming against Toronto, Orlando, New England and Chicago, NYCFC’s Shelton could be the value for money option over the next few weeks.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Jordi Quintilla ($5.6) is another cheap option to add to your side. The club also have a run of home games upcoming, the first of which is against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who surprisingly fell to the Drogba-less Montreal Impact on Sunday. Quintilla tallied eight points in a tough away fixture against Seattle last weekend as he picked up an assist for the game’s only goal. Could this performance be a sign of things to come? 

Last on the list is Cyle Larin ($9.1). The Orlando City forward scored a goal and set up another in injury time to earn his side an impressive 2-2 draw in a rollercoaster game against Real Salt Lake. Larin must be licking his lips at the thought of getting to play against the already faltering defence of Chicago Fire next. This is a perfect opportunity for Larin to continue to prove that last season was no fluke.

Embed from Getty Images

The Must Sells

Anyone who has Demar Phillips ($6.8), Oneil Fisher ($5.3) or Darwin Ceren ($6.6) I’m sure will consider selling them as they all received red cards, so their value could be spent better elsewhere for at least the next Gameweek. Some people may be worried about Kaka’s ($10.5) injury which looks set to keep him out for a few weeks yet – so taking a punt on Argentinian duo Mauro Diaz ($10.2) or Ignacio Piatti ($10.2) may be worth it – especially as neither of them will be affected by the international break in Week 4. Anyone who didn’t remove injured Red Bulls attacker Gonzalo Veron ($9.0) before Week 1 may wish to take their chance to now, along with the small percentage of people who still have NYCFC’s Jack Harrison ($5.5) in their side as he is still around a month from full fitness.


In the MLSGB Fantasy League, the top scorer with 101 points was Mack’s team, Mack Legend. Mack wisely placed Giovinco as captain, which gained him 22 points, while also picking up points from Ignacio Piatti, Cyle Larin, Fabian Castillo and Drew Moor in his Starting XI for Week 1.

You can still join the MLSGB Fantasy League by using code: 4670-1287.

Who will you be transferring in for Gameweek 2?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Sunday, March 6 – 14:00 ET (19:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Orlando 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Salt Lake 14/5

Match Preview

Orlando City welcome Real Salt Lake to the Citrus Bowl for the first time on the opening weekend of the 2016 Major League Soccer regular season.

Both these sides failed to make the playoffs last time around and both have room for improvement heading into the new campaign.

Orlando City drew their opening game of their inaugural MLS season and went on to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference.

Their best spell of the 2015 campaign nearly pushed them into the playoffs at the end of last season where they won five out of six – five of those wins coming on the bounce.

Adrian Heath has made some key additions to his squad and will be hoping his side can make a push for the playoffs this time around – Orlando had a solid preseason, only losing once so they have some good form to build upon.

Embed from Getty Images

Real Salt Lake come into the new campaign with optimism and will hope for a repeat of their form at the opening of the 2015 season where they went through their first five games unbeaten – winning twice and drawing three.

Jeff Cassar’s side finished the 2015 campaign 9th in the Western Conference and will want to get off to the best possible start to avoid being in the depths this time around.

They didn’t have the best preseason but this is a chance to start afresh and prove to everyone their not just here to make up the numbers.

They crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League to Tigres but impressed in the second leg on Wednesday and will hope those games have helped their match sharpness.

Their 2015 season ended with four losses in five outings – a domestic run of form they will not be looking to continue.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Orlando City have no injuries heading into the new campaign. They have made some key signings, with the likes of Antonio Nocerino and Joe Bendick coming into the squad. Devron Garcia is one to watch for Orlando. He has represented Honduras at U17 and U20 level and is an energetic defensive midfielder. He could prove to be the legs Orlando need in the middle and do some of the running to keep key man Kaka fresh this campaign.

Real Salt Lake also have no injuries ahead of this tie. They welcome back Yura Movsisyan – he won the playoffs in his last spell with the club and has a record of 20 goals in 81 appearances in MLS. Danilo Acosta also signed for RSL and he will be hoping to make his debut here.

Key Points

Orlando City’s preseason form: W/L/W/W/W

Real Salt Lake’s preseason form: L/L/D/D

Key Stat: Travel-sick – Real Salt Lake have struggled on the road, losing ten of their last 12 MLS outings away from home.

Key Player: Kaka – The Orlando captain had a solid first MLS season and now is the time to build on that. He may be 33 now but can still cut it. He bagged nine goals and notched seven assists last season in 28 appearances. He will expected to boss the middle of the park here.

Kaka Orlando City

Score Prediction

Orlando City 3-1 Real Salt Lake – Orlando to get off to a flyer and take advantage of Real Salt Lake’s difficulty on the road. The only meeting between these two last season ended 1-1 but that was at the Rio Tinto Stadium. The Orlando fans will be expecting nothing less than three points and will want to see their side pick up the first opening day win in their short history.

2016 MLS Season Preview: Orlando City

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Orlando City will be hoping to achieve in their second season.

Orlando City will have undoubtedly enjoyed their first season in MLS last year, as they provided entertainment and drama throughout. They will obviously be disappointed not to have made the playoffs, but that should spur them on to go one better than their seventh place finish last season. Adrian Heath has made more changes to the squad this offseason and will hope that the whole club will improve following the experiences of their inaugural campaign in Major League Soccer. The challenge this time around will be to start much better, as the Lions only won one of their first five games in MLS a year ago. But having ended 2015 with five wins from six, there is reason for optimism in Florida. Huge wins over LA Galaxy (4-0), Columbus Crew (5-2) and the Red Bulls (5-2) proved they can cope with the biggest clubs in MLS and so they could be dark horses for success in 2016.

Last season’s finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 7th – P34 – W12 – D8 – L14

Embed from Getty Images

What needs to change this year?

The Lions must try and shore up defensively. They conceded 56 goals – the second highest amount of in MLS – last term and need to work on shutting teams out more regularly, having kept just seven clean sheets in 34 games. They could also benefit massively from improving their home form. The Citrus Bowl became one of the loudest stadiums in MLS last year but the players let their fans down too many times on home soil. Orlando had the fifth-worst home record in MLS in 2015 and need to try and make the Citrus Bowl more of a fortress this season.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Joe Bendik – Goalkeeper, Richmond Laryea – Midfielder, Hadji Barry – Forward, Devron Garcia – Midfielder & Antonio Nocerino – Midfielder

Outs: Tally Hall – Goalkeeper, Corey Ashe – Defender, Eric Avila – Midfielder, Lewis Neal – Midfielder, Estrella – Midfielder & Danny Mwanga – Forward

Key Player:

Embed from Getty Images

Kaka – Midfielder – It’s impossible to look at anyone else as the key player for Orlando. Kaka is the captain and the most influential man in the team. He ended 2015 with nine goals and seven assists in 28 games and will expect to build on those numbers this time around. He is 33 years old now but still has the quality to create a chance from anywhere on the field. Orlando need Kaka to be at his best if they are to challenge high up the Eastern Conference this year.

One to Watch:

Devron Garcia – Midfielder – The 20-year-old Honduran international is one of six players to have been signed this offseason but is certainly one with plenty of scope for success. Garcia joins Orlando from Honduran side CD Vitoria, where he scored three goals in 39 matches, but it’s his contributions on the defensive side of the ball that really count. He thrives in the defensive midfield role and will hope to force his way into the first-team lineup quickly, despite competition for places in that area of the Lions squad. He has already represented Honduras at U17 and U20 levels and will be hoping to make an impression in 2016.

Embed from Getty Images

Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 7th – The 2016 season should be another exciting one for Orlando City and it would be a shock if they were to go backwards in their second campaign. We’ve predicted they will end the season in seventh place once again, but they have the potential to finish higher and will be expecting to make the playoffs. The Eastern Conference is set to be even more competitive this year and it will be fascinating to see how Orlando City perform in their second campaign. If Cyle Larin can repeat his fine season, and that’s a big ‘if’, they should do very well, while the addition of Antonio Nocerino is one that could prove to be an extremely good piece of business.

What are you expecting from Orlando City in 2016?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City 

Venue: PPL Park – Sunday, October 25 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 13/10 – Draw 5/2 – Orlando City 19/10

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union welcome Orlando City to PPL Park in their final game of the regular season with the away side chasing an unlikely playoff spot.

Philadelphia haven’t had much to shout about this season but will be hoping to end on a high and deny Orlando any slim chance they have of making the knockout rounds.

The home side come into this one of the back of their 4-1 thumping at the hands of New York Red Bulls.

The have a lot to improve on for next season and will want to come back stronger in 2016 with a push for the playoffs.

Embed from Getty Images

Orlando City can still make the playoffs, but they require New England Revolution to lose and an eight goal difference swing in their favour, unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

We can expect the away side to go for it from the off, that’s all they can do here, but they have to ensure they don’t leave themselves vulnerable at the back.

They come into this one off the back of their 2-1 win over New York City FC, their 5th win on the bounce, form which has seen a late playoff serge.

This has been a solid first season for Orlando and they have the potential to become a force in MLS.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Philadelphia Union have three injury concerns. Jimmy McLaughlin, Brian Sylvester and Maurice Edu are all out. Steven Vitoria is suspended.

Orlando City have six injuries to deal with. Kevin Molino, Conor Donovan, Earl Edwards Jr. and Tally Hall are all out. Rafael Ramos and Tommy Redding are doubts.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: L/W/D/L/L

Orlando City’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Orlando City have scored at least two goals in their last three MLS games.

Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian masterclass has plenty of experience in the biggest games, if Orlando are to stand any chance of making the playoffs they need goals, Kaka obviously has the ability to provide and finish chances against any opponent.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Orlando City – Orlando to push hard for the eight goal swing, but ultimately leave themselves suspect to the counter.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. Orlando City

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, September 5 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: New England Revolution 8/13 – Draw 3/1 – Orlando City 4/1

Match Preview

New England Revolution take on Orlando City this Saturday as they look to secure a playoff place in the Eastern Conference.

The Revs are sitting in 5th place on 37 points and have been in a good run of form, unbeaten in their last five, winning four of those games.

They come into this one off the back of last weekends 1-0 away win over Philadelphia Union which will have continued to help build confidence in the side.

Jay Heaps will know Orlando will push his side hard to take all three points but this is a tie he will expect the Revs to win and make their excellent home advantage count.

Embed from Getty Images

Orlando City have struggled over their last five games, failing to register a win in any of those outings, but despite those results they remain well in the fight for a playoff spot.

Adrian Heath’s side showed their desire to get back on track with their 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire last weekend after their ill-disciplined performance away at Toronto the previous week.

Orlando have lost their last four on the road and in those games they have conceded 18 goals. They will need to be far more organised at the back if they are to take anything away from a very strong Revs home side.

Embed from Getty Images

Heath’s side have lost seven of their 13 away ties this season, but have showed they have what it takes to find the net against the Revs, with their earlier meeting in the campaign ending in a 2-2 draw. If Orlando can repeat that scoreline it will be a solid result.

Team News

New England are still without Darrius Barnes. London Woodberry and Jose Goncalves are both one caution away from a suspension. Jermaine Jones is on international duty with the USMNT.

Orlando City have six injury concerns heading into this one. Kevin Molino, Conor Donovan, Brek Shea and Harrison Heath are set to miss out while Tony Cascio and Seb Hines are both doubts. Carlos Rivas and Darwin Ceren are both one away from suspension. Rafael Ramos and Adrian Winter are serving the second game of their suspensions following their dismissals against Toronto.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s last five in MLS: W/D/W/W/W

Orlando City’s last five in MLS: L/D/L/L/D

Key Stat: Fortress – New England Revolution are undefeated in 22 of their last 23 home games.

Key Player: Kaka – Orlando desperately need their key man to help get the side reorganised and ensure they do not miss out on a playoff spot. His debut season in MLS has been a good one but he will be more than aware of the demands of the fans and the weight on his shoulders in a tough time of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

New England Revolution 2-1 Orlando City – The Revs to prove too strong for a struggling Orlando side with another home win.

PHOTOS: Exclusive images from Seattle Sounders’ 4-0 win over Orlando City

The Seattle Sounders got a much needed win under their belt when they beat Orlando City 4-0 on Sunday night, snapping a worrying five-game losing streak.

Things have not been easy for the Sounders in recent times but the return of Obafemi Martins inspired them to victory, while new signings Roman Torres and Nelson Valdez made their debuts and also strengthened Sigi Schmid’s team.

Martins netted twice, while Valdez scored a debut goal and Thomas added a late fourth. Seattle were dominant and were helped by the fact Orlando had to play more than half of the game with ten men after Tyler Turner saw red for two bookings in the first-half.

Orlando have now lost their last three away games and are outside of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference with nine games to play.

Seattle are hanging on to sixth spot in the West and are eight points off top spot with nine games to play too.

Check out the exclusive images from the game below, taken by our North American photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Kaka Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Nelson Valdez Luke Boden Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Aurelien Collin Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Kaka Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Nelson Valdez Cyle Larin Roman Torres Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew 

Venue: Citrus Bowl – Saturday, August 1 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando City 6/5 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus Crew 19/10

Match Preview

Orlando City host Columbus Crew this weekend in the third regular season meeting between the sides this term. The home side are yet to beat the Crew in a regular season game but were victorious in their meeting in the US Open Cup.

Adrian Heath’s side have lost their last three games on the bounce and this will be a real test for the eighth placed Orlando City.

Orlando have struggled to find home form this season, having won just three of their 11 ties at the Citrus Bowl and that is affecting their playoff chances.

Despite being six places behind the Crew in the league, Orlando are only seven points worse off than their opponents. Heath will be expecting his side to finish in the playoff spots and victory here would be a welcome result to end their four-game winless run.

Embed from Getty Images

Columbus Crew are sitting in a respectable second place in the Eastern Conference and know they cannot afford any slip-ups in the coming games as they will risk dropping down the table.

Crew SC have been in good form of late, losing just once in their last eight outings. Worryingly though, they have only won one regular season away game this campaign.

Gregg Berhalter’s side come into the game off the back of the 3-3 draw with Toronto last weekend, in which they squandered a 3-0 lead and so the players will need to respond immediately to keep the pressure on DC United at the top of the Eastern.

Embed from Getty Images

The MLS game between the two at the Citrus Bowl back in May ended in a 2-2 draw, while Columbus beat the Lions 3-0 at MAPFRE Stadium in April.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Kevin Molino, Tony Cascio, Brek Shea and Harrison Heath. Carlos Rivas is one caution away from suspension.

Columbus Crew have no injury concerns but do have three players one caution away from suspension. Mohammed Saeid, Kei Kamara and Waylon Francis are all treading on thin ice. Kamara suffered a knock in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night but should be fit to start here.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five in MLS: W/D/L/L/L

Columbus Crew’s last five in MLS: W/L/W/W/D

Key Stat: Columbus Crew have won just once away from home this season in MLS.

Key Player: Kaka – The midfield maestro played and scored in the midweek MLS All-Stars clash against Tottenham Hotspur and is unplayable when in the mood. Expect him to impress in front of his own fans on Saturday evening.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Orlando City 1-2 Columbus Crew – Columbus Crew to take all three points with their second away win on the bounce against an Orlando side struggling to find any form.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Sunday, July 26 – 14:30 ET (19:30 BST – Live on Sky Sports 5)

Match Odds: NYCFC 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Orlando City 23/10

Match Preview

New York City FC host Orlando City at Yankee Stadium in one of Week 21’s standout fixtures on Sunday afternoon in what should be a great spectacle.

The two MLS Expansion Franchises met back in March on opening weekend in what was the first ever MLS game for both clubs. Kaka’s late deflected free-kick cancelled out a Mix Diskerud strike to earn a point at the Citrus Bowl in what was an entertaining game and a similar match is expected in this one.

Neither side come into the game in good form though, with just three league wins in their last ten combined games between them, so if either is able to take three points from Sunday’s clash they will be delighted.

NYCFC could be boosted by the debuts of Designated Players Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, though Jason Kreis has not yet confirmed whether the two midfield legends will definitely feature against the Lions.

Embed from Getty Images

Their debuts can’t come soon enough for New York City fans as they look to climb into the playoff places with just three months to go. They are currently three points off Orlando in the last remaining playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and could end the weekend in sixth as a result.

Kreis will be expecting his side to respond from last week’s 1-0 loss at New England but will hope they can perform better defensively than in their last home game as Toronto put four past them in that crazy 4-4 draw.

Orlando come into the game off the back of two straight 2-0 defeats at home. New York Red Bulls followed FC Dallas in beating the Lions last weekend and Adrian Heath will be looking for a response against their expansion rivals here.

Embed from Getty Images

They’ve only won one of their last six away from home, however, and need to make sure they perform much better if they’re to take anything from Sunday’s encounter.

Team News

New York City’s main team news regards Lampard and Pirlo, though it’s not clear whether both will feature on Sunday. Lampard has missed the last two weeks with a calf strain but could play here, while Pirlo trained for the first time with NYCFC on Thursday and will be in contention to start. Jason Hernandez and Ned Grabavoy are both suspended, while George John and Tony Taylor are out. Connor Brandt, Javier Calle and Sebastian Velasquez are all doubtful. Mix Diskerud is still away at the Gold Cup and won’t feature.

Orlando have several concerns too. Christian Higuita is ruled out through suspension, while Kevin Molino, Martin Paterson, Tony Cascio, Brek Shea and Harrison Heath are all out injured. Kaka is fit and will hope to inspire his team to victory.

Key Points

New York City’s last five: W/L/W/D/L

Orlando City’s last five: L/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: NYCFC have the worst home record in MLS, having picked up just ten points from a possible 30 at Yankee Stadium.

Key Player: David Villa – Two new DPs may be grabbing all the attention in New York right now, but it’s David Villa who has carried the team so far. He has ten goals and will look to lead his side to victory here.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

New York City FC 2-2 Orlando City – Tough to separate the sides as another score draw could be on the cards. Neither side are at full strength but there should be goals in what will be an open and entertaining game. If Lampard and Pirlo make their debuts, NYCFC will be difficult to beat but that’s a big ‘if’.